Abstract Detail

Mycology & Phycology

Herzog, Christine [1], Metzgar, Jordan [2].

The funga of a Southeastern USA old-growth forest, Stadium Woods and assessing impacts from human disturbance.

Old-growth forests are ancient woods that have survived for centuries mostly untouched by major disturbances. Their unique ecological features, like layered canopies and large amounts of dead trees, create habitats that can support high biodiversity including many fungi. Fungal presence is essential for forest ecosystem health and could be a key factor in understanding the different properties and overall health of woodlands. However, human activity has heavily impacted the world’s forests. Stadium Woods is an 11.3 acre urban old-growth forest on the Virginia Tech campus located behind the football stadium. It is comprised of more than 500 living trees and is dominated by white oaks, some over 400 years old. This rare on-campus primary forest suffers from many human impacts, including construction, heavy foot traffic, and litter. Center Woods is a 39.5 acre secondary-growth forest, located off of the main campus. It also has a large white oak population, but is dominated by a mixture of oak and hickory. Center Woods is impacted by several research programs but overall suffers considerably less human traffic. We are surveying the funga of both forests and have collected over 140 specimens, with at least 30 different genera represented. Our collections are posted to an iNaturalist project to include public observations and identifications. We are also using DNA sequencing to identify cryptic specimens. We predict that the heavy foot traffic in Stadium Woods has resulted in this forest having similar levels of lignicolous fungi and lower level of soil fungi compared to Center Woods. Lignicolous fungi are likely less affected by trampling as their fruiting bodies and mycelium sheets are isolated from the foot path. We also hypothesize that Stadium Woods will have a higher frequency of ruderal species, due to its higher level of human disturbance and proximity to urbanized areas. Our project will assess the fungal component of Stadium Woods’ unique ecosystem and provide useful baseline data to track changes in the forest's health over time. This analysis will improve our understanding of the myco-plant relationships of old-growth forests as a whole.

1 - Virginia Tech, Massey Herbarium, mc0406, blacksburg, Va, 24061, USA
2 - Virginia Tech, Biological Sciences, 926 W. Campus Dr, MC 0406, Derring Hall 2119, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, United States

old-growth forest

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: MP1001
Abstract ID:362
Candidate for Awards:None

Copyright © 2000-2022, Botanical Society of America. All rights reserved